Over the past 6 months, hell the past 3 years, there have been a lot of changes in my life. Habits and practices and order and structure were thrown in a blender and dumped all over the floor. For example for many years I had a corner of a desk where I put bills to be paid, if there was anything on that corner I knew I had a bill I needed to keep in mind. If the corner was clean I knew everything was taken care of. Since then I’ve moved 5 times, sold furniture, rearranged, packed up, unpacked and generally moved towards less structure. There are many aspects of the less structured way of life that I love and can’t imagine changing, but there are also parts of it I’m still trying to get a grip on. That perfectly neat stack of bills has since changed into a pile here, a pile there, an envelope in this bag and a post it note on that monitor or even a scrap of paper in some pant pocket that I hope to remember to get out before I washed them. “Cleaning up” has been much more of the “get things out of sight” then “get things in order” variety.

That’s been catching up to me like the feeling of having something left undone but not knowing what to do to finish it. You know the feeling of having a bunch of things on a todo list you haven’t had a chance to write down yet and the fear that by the time you do write it down you will have forgotten some of the key items. That feeling has been manifesting in self in strained memory, misplaced stuff, and a general feeling of “I know something important just slipped my mind.” It’s because my head is swimming trying to keep track of all this stuff. I’ve been feeling like that a lot recently and finally decided I needed to do something about it. That something involves going through every box, every shelf, every stack I have around and either organizing or throwing crap out. I knew I had clutter, but I had no idea how bad.

Keep in mind that I did this to some extent 2 years ago and thought I got rid of anything I didn’t need. I must have been smoking crack. Today I dug into a filing cabinet, a closet and a 2 dressers. I’m no where near finished but one of the dressers is now completely empty and the filling cabinet is more organized than it’s been since I purchased it. Here’s a glimps of some of the things I found, and once I got over the shock that I had been carrying them around and making room in my life to store them, threw them out…

  • Check books from 1997.
  • Probably 1000 or more business cards, some over 10 years old.
  • Conference schedules from events that ended over 5 years ago.
  • Boarding passes for at least 30 different flights.
  • Cassette tapes (often broken) of albums I have on Vinyl, CD, and MP3.
  • Invites to art openings that happened years ago.
  • Birthday cards from people I haven’t talked to or seen since before I turned 30.
  • Boxes for electronics that I no longer even possess.
  • Bus transfers that expired years ago.
  • The list goes on…

Just today I threw out 4 bags full of crap. The amusing thing is even after all of that it doesn’t seem like I have that much less clutter around, but at least with the things I worked on today I know what I have and where is. That is a huge step from my general confusion that I started out with this morning. I’ve got a lot more to go in the next few days but the mental clarity that comes from not having to try and keep track of all this unfinished business is addictive so I’m really looking forward to it.